Thursday, 23 August 2012

Chocolatey balls of goodness

'Good-ness'. The word my trainer uses to describe things that make your body scream but leave you (somehow) wanting more. Like Bulgarian squats.
I promise these are nothing like bulgarian squats.
These are real goodness. And if you feel a little guilty about eating a few too many (believe me, once you start you will not stop), you could always do some 'good-ness' to make up for it ;)

These chocolate balls are a dairy-free dream, they're way healthier than truffles with the sugar from dried fruit and fat from nuts. Sorry, but in this one nuts are a must.
There are four ingredients that are open to change, require no cooking and the only utensil is a food processor/blender/stick mixer/knife.

I use my Breville stick mixer for everything: processing, smoothies, grinding, chopping (onions and garlic - yay!) and its great for this recipe but my mother-in-law uses a standard blender. This recipe is her genius:

Chocolatey Balls of Goodness
makes ~34 balls
1 1/2 cups Cashews
1 1/2 cups Dates
1/3 cup Cocoa (or cacao)
Coconut (for coating)

The amounts are variable, I don't usually measure them out. If you like nutty food, add more nuts and if you like them to be more chocolatey add more cocoa!

Throw the nuts and fruit into your food processor and blend them up (if they don't both fit do one at a time and combine them at the end). Once they're chopped finely, add the cocoa.
Roll into balls and roll the outsides in coconut!

They'll harden up when you put them into the fridge but I usually sneak a few before I put them away - you can't put the lumpy ones away, right? ;)
Store them in an airtight container in the fridge, they can last for weeks if you don't eat them all!

Approximately (per ball) 50 cal, 7g carb, 2g fat, 1g protein.

I've tried replacing the dates with apricots and a little raspberry jam to sweeten when I've run out of dates and they're yum too. Dates and cashews are the most chocolatey though.
Have a go with other nuts and dried fruits, maybe figs and walnuts?

Friday, 17 August 2012

Muesli Bars!

Pistachio and Apple, and Almond and Apricot Muesli Bars

I'm in a constant battle to come up with healthy snacks to take to uni with me. I want high protein, low calorie, filling, tasty.. and it's not easy to come up with new ideas.
These energy bars I'm hoping to develop further to pack in more protein and take out some sugar but here is my skeleton recipe:

Muesli Bar Skeleton Recipe
1 1/4 cup gluten-free rolled oats
1 cup chopped nuts (any combination you like!)
1 cup chopped dried fruit (try naturally sweetened cranberries, or a combination of apricots, apples and raisins!)
3/4 cup ground flax seed* or a combination of: flax, bran, sesame seeds, coconut, or extra ground nuts (I like 2/4c flax:1/4c coconut)
1 1/2 cups gluten-free puffed rice cereal (without added sugar)
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup raw honey or brown rice syrup (the rice syrup isn't so sweet)**
1/4 cup nut or seed butter (I like tahini, but peanut butter works great to - or maybe try sunflower or almond butter!)**
1 tsp vanilla extract (I like to use Queen's vanilla bean paste)
1/2 tsp salt

1. Cover a 18x28cm lamington/slice pan with baking paper (it needs to be 5cm or so deep)
2. Combine the oats, nuts, fruit, ground seeds, cereal and cinnamon in a large bowl.
3. Warm the honey/syrup with the nut butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat and stir until smooth. Turn off the heat and add the vanilla and salt.
4. Mix the syrup into the dry ingredients thoroughly and press into the slice tin. To make it even, try covering the mixture in the pan with another sheet of baking paper and smoothing with the back of a spoon.
5. Refrigerate overnight, then slice into 16 bars!

Each bar contains: 178calories, 4g protein, 22g carbs and 13g fat.
**Next time I'll try to use 1/2 cup honey and 1/2 nut/seed butter to reduce the sugar.

*did you know you can only absorb the goodness of flax when it's ground? when whole they go straight through you!

Be careful what you wish for ;)

I recently discovered that my body really doesn't like dairy, or egg (whites), or soy.

It's my own fault. When I was in high school and in the depths of my chocolate addicition I said to a friend 'I wish I was allergic to chocolate! Then I'd stop eating it!'. And what do you know? The powers listened! (didn't listen when I said I wanted to be a famous singer.. gee.)
I'm not allergic, I have an intolerance. Which means it's not the end of the world when someone cooks me something with cream or egg in it without realising, I just get very uncomfortable with headaches and eczema.
An intolerance means that if I go completely without for 6 or so months, my body will be able to tolerate these products in small amounts every now and again.

But I've read The China Study by Campbell and Co., and I know that animal products (yep, that's dairy and egg) don't agree with anyone of us, really, and my body won't ever like dairy or eggs in large quantities, so I am rediscovering my love of cooking - and this time it's dairy, egg and soy free!
I also believe that the body doesn't much like guten (I have no gluten intolerance). Even if I'm cooking for those of us who are perfectly happy to eat gluten (or dairy etc.), I'd like my food to be open access for everyone.
I do love to cook with nuts, but most recipes that use them usually work out just fine without.
Similarly, The China Study (and the results of numerous other studies I've read) has made me aware of the vast quantities of animal proteins we load our bodies with and the (mostly negative) effects they have on us.

I am not vegan. But when given the choice I would much rather eat a plate of vegetables than a beef cheek any day. (I do on the rare occasion really crave a great steak.. but we won't go there).

My busy lifestyle means my family often cook for me and they do not follow my everything-free persuasion, however they do ensure there are no soy, egg, or dairy products in my food. My boyfriend also thinks I'm crazy and raises his eyebrows when I present a cake and say 'It's dairy, soy, egg and gluten free!' like it's a mud pie from the garden........ or perhaps a rock. So my challenge, and I choose to accept it, is to rediscover the world of baking (and other cooking) without all these icky things that our bodies don't like, AND make them taste more awesome than any 'normal' food.

So this is a blog of my free-cooking adventures.
Each post will include labels of what its free of. I'm hoping almost all of them will be VEGAN, GLUTEN-FREE, EGG-FREE, SOY-FREE, DAIRY-FREE. I haven't had a go at gluten-free replacement of flours but I'm taking on board all I've learnt from great blogs like Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom and Manifest Vegan and cookbooks like Allergy-Free Cooking by Dr Sue Shepherd and think it will be a great success.

I'd love to hear your experiences, tips, criticisms and requests to help me along my way.